Why do experienced professionals still struggle to find flexible work?

ARTICLE BY SALLY CLARE, HEAD OF DIVERSITY AT AMBITION
 
Over the last 3 months I have been researching the flexible working recruitment market in London. I was curious to find out where and how individuals look for flexible positions and have spoken with many people who are either currently working or seeking work on a flexible basis.

From my discussions with these individuals, it seems there are currently two main methods of finding flexible work: 

1) Register with a recruitment company that specifically recruits for part-time roles 
2) Use flexible working job boards / websites 

 
Assessing the options
 
1) Part-time recruiters
 
Due to the increasing demand for flexible working, there are now certain recruitment agencies out there that cater to individuals looking for flexible work. These agencies have teams that recruit for specific sectors, typically hiring for roles and companies that traditionally cater to part-time work such HR and the charities sector. 

However, most of the part-time positions that these agencies recruit for tend to be fairly junior level, processing type roles. Finding a senior position on a part-time basis is quite challenging.

 
2) Flexible working job boards and websites
 
The number of websites and job boards promoting flexible work are continuing to grow. They are creating highly useful platforms where job seekers can easily apply for flexible positions and recognise companies that see the value in a flexible workforce. 

These well-intentioned job sites and websites are doing some great work in highlighting to businesses the demand for more flexible and part time roles, as well as allowing companies to access a pool of flexible talent. 

 
However, I have discovered one particular issue with most of the ‘flexible roles’ advertised on these sites.  Many companies are using the same job description to advertise their part-time roles as they would use for the full-time position. 
 
It is so important that businesses tailor their job adverts to demonstrate how flexible working is embedded into the company and what the flexible position will actually entail, paying particular attention to the language used.
 
Occasionally, an exciting senior level flexible role is advertised.
 
These adverts often attract a large number of applications, so many in fact, that the sheer volume is often too high for anyone to process effectively. This results in the process becoming a keyword matching game where the reviewer simply searches for key words and phrases as their first round of CV shortlisting. In doing this, they fail to recognise the broad scope of the talented applications as well as the different skills and varied knowledge they could bring to the role.
 
Finding senior level flexible work is difficult
 
Most experienced professionals have had a varied career in which they have developed different skills, potentially within a variety of roles or sectors. This broad skillset often does not lend itself to the more specific flexible roles posted on most job boards. 

As a result, many experienced individuals that want to work on a flexible basis are left unsure of where they fit. Some consider taking a step backward in their career to enable them to work flexibly. Others consider completely changing their career path, in order to move into a sector that is more accommodating to flexible practices. This results in the great loss of their skills and experience from their core market.

Whilst the demand for flexible working is rising, it seems that most companies still have a long way to go when it comes to catering to candidates’ flexible requirements. After talking to many senior level candidates who are looking for flexible work, it is clear to me that this great candidate pool remains largely untapped! 

In my next blog I will highlight the benefits to businesses in tapping into this experienced talent looking for flexible work but in the meantime I would be interested to know your thoughts and feelings on the flexible market?

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